By: Maxwell Bruns ~Advertising Manager~
Tomi Lahren, in an interview with CNN Correspondents on the show Reliable Sources July 10, said to host Brian Stetler, “If you disagree with what someone says on social media, you bring them on [your platform] and you allow them to address it. You don’t talk about them. You allow them to defend themselves. You allow them to clarify, and you allow them to have that open and honest conversation, as I’ve asked to do on many of the platforms that have said that I went too far.”
The interview involved Lahren, a conservative talking head and host for the show TheBlaze, journalist David Zurawik and Jamia Wilson, a feminist activist. Lahren said the aforementioned quote in response to Zurawik’s claim that when a journalist says something out of hand, it is the responsibility of other journalists to contextualize and explore what has been said. To redefine and reclaim those words so that the audience knows that you and other talking heads like yourself understand what was wrong about those words. Lahren was disgusted and suggested her alternative, which involves direct engagement with the person who has apparently done wrong. Tomi Lahren, (I cannot believe I am writing these words,) on this one issue, I 100 percent agree with you.
In the age of the post-Trump election, in the world of the Black Lives Matter movement, in the context of liberal and conservative agendas clashing aggressively and with personal vigor about social issues, both sides of the political and social aisle have done a beautiful job of creating bubbles for themselves.
When Zurawik suggested in the interview that journalists have a responsibility to hold one another in check by analyzing each other’s words, he was dressing this bubble up in a façade of social progress and discussion. But journalists like Zurawik are part of the problem.
We live in an America that claims that “all men are created equal.” But if this is really true, why are we not listening to one another? Why are we not engaging one another? Why are we not talking to each other instead of about each other?
In Zurawik’s defense, his reference was pointed at Lahren, who had earlier in the week tweeted some disturbing comparisons between the Black Lives Matter movement and the KKK. No, dear reader, the irony is not lost on me either. But Zurawik, even while making his claim in front of Lahren herself, did not ask her to clarify, to explain or to address her own assertions. He simply told her he was disgusted and was “trying to be polite.”
Listen, folks, if you read me regularly, you know that I’m a bleeding heart liberal. I love to idealize love and opportunity and acceptance for all people, no matter what race, creed, gender, faith, sexual orientation or favorite brand of shoe they identify with. But Tomi Lahren represents a matter of fact, actualized and largely undiscussed demographic that still exists in our world today.
It is matter of fact because she says what she means and feels, just as other liberal and conservative reporters do. It is actualized because she tries (although she often fails) to back up her opinions and views with real world statistics and examples. It is undiscussed because many people in a less extreme or conservative world context believe that people like her can’t actually, possibly exist. Maybe it’s because people like David Zurawik look down on people like Tomi Lahren, or maybe it’s because they feel like the Tomis of the world won’t listen to them anyway. But their resistance to engage with the Tomis of the world is an automatic failure of discourse.
Tomi Lahren, in the long run, you do not scare me. Your show repeatedly proves to me that you are a talking head and that there is a lot left in this world that may someday contextualize or nuance or augment or amend the things that you say. I believe this of every human being that I have ever met. I certainly believe this of myself. If anything, really, you’re a shining example of where discourse can go wrong. People hear what you have to say, either agree with you blindly or dismiss you out of hand and then talk about you instead of talk with you.
However, in a Nov. 30, interview with Daily Show Host Trevor Noah, we the people finally got to see you engage in open and honest discourse. In fact, we got to see two diametric opposites get down to the nitty gritty. Tomi, you finally got what you wanted: you got to talk and I listened. I hope everyone listened and learned. You allow them to clarify and you allow them to have that open and honest conversation, as I’ve asked to do on many of the platforms that have said that I went too far, because for once I saw an interview where talking seemed to be the point, rather than accusing or blaming or being disgusted. As you yourself said, Tomi Lahren, “You allow them to clarify and you allow them to have that open and honest conversation.”